Saturday, August 14, 2004

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Final Thoughts on the Convention:
Never apologize for what we believe

A number of people, especially
That Colored Fella, have asked that I write a few words to sum up my experience at the Democratic National Convention.

There were, of course, many things that made an impression: the music, the speeches, and the solidarity of all of us standing together saying that 4 more years of George W. Bush is simply not an option.

But through it all, the single most powerful impression that the convention had on me was the sense of pride in who we are and what we stand for. And it all served to create a strong, wonderful, and yes, defiant feeling that as Democrats we will no longer allow ourselves to be marginalized by the right; that we will not cede the flag, faith, or patriotism to the Republicans or anyone else. And that as the party that stands up for education, justice, the environment, health care, reproductive choice, working families, and opportunities for all Americans, we have every right to be proud of who we are, the work we do, and the candidates we support.

That's what it all boiled down to. And it came with the understanding that all of us had to go back to our communities and do the work that would bring about the change to make a better America.

This is a battle that must be fought precinct by precinct, neighborhood by neighborhood.

Politics is a simple business: We register voters, we educate voters, we motivate voters, and we get them to the polls on election day.

There are somewhere between a dozen and two dozen battleground states. The side that succeeds in those four tasks in those battleground states will win the election.

So I have returned home, and I'm working my neighborhood. I live in a traditionally Democratic neighborhood in a battleground state. I know that every vote counts.

So I've made it my mission to register voters, educate voters, motivate voters, and get them to the polls on election day.

I have every reason to believe that this is the most important election of our lives. Four more years of George W. Bush, and the spectre of two or perhaps three Bush Supreme Court appointees, means that the fate of the nation is in our hands. That's the way I see it. That is how I approach this mission. I have listened to my neighbors. That is how they see it, too. The damage is already more than anyone could have imagined. Four more years is unthinkable.

So there it is. The view from a delegate from a battleground state. I have returned home and taken up the fight -- neighborhood by neighborhood, precinct by precinct -- knowing that the fate of the nation, and of the world, is in our hands.

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Make Marilyn Snivel Some More
Help out Stan Matsunaka

Representative Marilyn Musgrave (R-Colorado), known for her rabid homophobia, is one of the more vicious members of the far right's lunatic fringe.
As I wrote back in June:
There are some members of Congress who are personally so vile and whose politics are so repulsive, that they require our full attention. Representative Marilyn Musgrave (R-Colorado) is one such individual.
Now it appears that she is snivelling about the support her Democratic opponent, Stan Matsunaka is receiving from various donors via Left Blogostan. Atrios captures it here:

You see, the left-wing radicals and Democrats hope to drain my resources and bleed me dry with negative attacks in the primary.

Then comes the nastier storm on the horizon, already swelling, with liberal activists backing my general election challenger, Democrat Stan Matsunaka.


Right now, Stan Matsunaka is not only pushing individual donors to max out, but also all of the liberal special interest donors across the country.

Just one liberal website alone raised over $20,000 for Matsunaka in a matter of days! And there are literally dozens of liberal websites targeting me for defeat.

Most of these extremist donors will give again and again (many will even give the legal maximum of $2000 per person, per election). This will add hundreds of thousands of dollars to Matsunaka's already ballooning war chest.


The bank accounts of liberal special interests seem to have no limit . . . The liberal special interests and the other democrats are stopping at nothing to dfeat (sic) me. They are pulling out all the stops and calling in the reserves.
If you think of yourself as a proud extremist, or simply as someone who loves America, stop by Stan Matsunaka's site and make a donation (whatever you can afford).

Show Ms. Musgrave she ain't seen nothin' yet.

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For your Weekend Reading:
No Way Out

It's Saturday and I can't write much today. I've got some friends and neighbors coming over to meet local candidates and talk about the Presidential election.

If you haven't already, be sure and read Fred Kaplan's No Way Out in Slate. I looked at it last night on Josh Marshall's recommendation.

It prompted me to go back and read Spiraling Out of Control which I wrote back in mid-February. I'm amazed at how the impending catastrophe was so cleary visible even then.

I don't envy John Kerry and his staff. Once they take office, they'll have to find a way to address the disaster Bush created. And that will be no simple task.


Friday, August 13, 2004

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Another Bush-Cheney Flip-Flop:
they just can't help themselves

President Bush - Aug. 6, 2004: Now in terms of the balance between running down intelligence and bringing people to justice obviously is -- we need to be very sensitive on that. (emphasis added)

Vice President Cheney - Aug. 12, 2004: America has been in too many wars for any of our wishes, but not a one of them was won by being sensitive. (emphasis added)
Thanks to Rodger A. Payne, who has more.

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Juan Cole on Najaf:
Memories of Waco

Although Muqtada and his men are now under siege, Waco-style, it is not for sure that the Marines can capture or kill him. I suspect Najaf is crisscrossed by underground tunnels, which is how Muqtada and others used to evade Saddam's secret police.

If he is trapped in the shrine, and the siege goes on very long, that in itself could inflame Shiite passions against the US. Remember that Waco was in the back of the mind of Timothy McVeigh, who later blew up a Federal building.

My guess is that if Muqtada is killed, and maybe also if he is captured and imprisoned, that will tip the Sadr movement into conducting a long-term low-intensity guerrilla war, similar to what Sunni radicals and Arab nationalists have done in the Sunni heartland for the past 16 months. The south had been much quieter than the Sunni Arab areas, but I suspect that calm can no longer be taken for granted. The question is what happens to the Iraqi government if it faces two major guerrilla insurgencies going on at the same time.
And also, what happens to those young American men and women, sent by a dangerous idiot to plant the flag of democracy in the heart of Islam?

Chest deep in the Big Muddy

UPDATE: Be sure and catch Josh Marshall's post on each tactical victory being a strategic setback.

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Blogger Quote of the Day

Kevin Drum on the Bush administration citing terrorism as the rationale for not allowing the import of less expensive prescription drugs from Canada:
Every time I think the Bush administration can't get any worse, they get worse. Every. Single. Time.
Roger that.

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Where are Wayne Newton
and Barry Manilow?

Digby notes that the RNC has announced the preliminary list of big super stars that will be raising spirits at the Republican Convention in New York.

The excitement is infectious. I think I need a nap.


Thursday, August 12, 2004

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Welcome to the Republican
Vision of America

Suburban Guerrilla, a report on what happens when the wrong kind of people try to hear the President of the United States speak:
I waited in line, picked up my Bush tickets and waited in line to enter the park to hear the president. When I got up to the front of the line, I was grabbed by security, pushed to the side (in front of my children and Republican friends) and my ticket was ripped. They said, "We don't like your pin, so get out of here."

I was wearing a small pin that said, "John Kerry 2004." The worst part is the security team did this in front of my children. I want my daughters to understand that in America we have the right to free speech. We have the First Amendment, but that was blatantly violated.

I wasn't making a scene. I didn't even say anything. My daughters don't understand why this happened. They thought in America people could express themselves without repression.
Just imagine how nice they will treat us if we let them have 4 more years.

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NBC 'Terrorists" Foiled at St. Louis Airport

I have a former associate who is working in counterterrorism. Every now and then he sends me something. This was interesting.

The following is a description of an incident that occurred today at the St. Louis Downtown Airport, a large GA facility. We are sharing this story with you as there are indications that it might be repeated throughout the country. We would like to thank Bob McDaniel, the Director at the St. Louis Downtown Airport, for sharing the details of the incident outlined below.

Earlier today two Middle Eastern men attempted to penetrate our security. They telephoned one of my helicopter FBOs and asked about a charter flight. After discussion of price and directions to the business, they arrived an hour later. When the office agent asked how they were going to pay for the flight they produced cash. When asked for ID, they produced driver's licenses from two different states and they were driving a car licensed in a third state.

Things didn't smell right so the mechanic took them into the hangar to see the aircraft while the office person called the FBI and local police. The helicopter they were going to fly was blocked in by other aircraft so the mechanic was able to stall them by having to slowly shuffle the blocking planes. Meanwhile the two men got their backpacks and odd-shaped luggage out of their car. Soon the local police arrived and they were hauled off to jail in handcuffs.

After a little time behind bars, the FBI verified that the two men were employed by NBC New York and were on assignment to get a story of how easy it is to charter a helicopter for a terrorist attack. The men had stayed in a local hotel and purchased box cutters, leather-man knives, and other potential weapons at the local Wal-Mart using a credit card. The box cutters had been hidden in the lining at the bottom of the back packs and the other weapons were hidden throughout their baggage. They had audio taped the telephone conversation with Arlene and were going to use it as part of a national news story about how easy it is to get information and directions to the location of the helicopter and then hijack it to commit a terrorist attack.

I doubt they will be back at our airport soon and this is a story that will never be seen since they were caught. A very "well-done" to my FBO and staff and the local FBI and police response forces. We have since learned that we were the first airport where this had been attempted and NBC planned to attempt similar penetration stories around the country.

Please help me spread the word to other airports.

It will be interesting to see how NBC reports this, if they do at all.

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One Good War Blog

I don't read many war blogs. But here is one I'm recommending: My War: Fear and Loathing in Iraq. Written by a young man from San Francisco. It's very human. It's very real. And it's war.

Since the war in Iraq is getting less and less coverage in the main stream press, I think it's important to read a reminder each day that our sons and daughters, brothers and sisters, and for some of us, mothers and fathers are still over there.

Thanks to Current Events Monitor for the link.

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Madness Takes its Toll:
teen pipe bombs are now WMD

Kevin Hayden linked to A Complete Bunch of Pants which noticed this article about a kid with an interest in chemistry and a few pipe bombs who is facing 24 counts of possessing weapons of mass destruction.

I'm sorry folks, but it seems that we have lost our sense of proportion.

Lisa at Bunch of Pants mentions a kid she knew in school who liked to make bombs, too. He never hurt anyone, got an ROTC scholarship and went into the Army after completing college.

I have to confess to trying to make a pipe bomb during my misguided youth. Hanging out with an older cousin one summer, we filled a lead pipe with match heads, doused them with lighter fluid, and tried in vain to get the thing to blow. Fortunately for us, it never did. Otherwise we'd have probably turned up at the burn unit of our local hospital.

Neither of us grew up to be mass murderers, by the way. He went to law school and has been a judge in Tucson for the past couple of decades. And I -- well, I write a blog.

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Mission Accomplished -- Not!

If the photo-op with Flight Suit Boy standing in front of the banner that read Mission Accomplished was all about the end of major combat operations in Iraq, what the hell is happening now?

Kos wonders, too. Quoting the Atlanta Journal Constitution:

Explosions and gunfire echoed across the holy city of Najaf on Thursday, as the U.S. military and Iraqi forces launched a full-scale assault to crush a weeklong uprising by militiamen loyal to radical Shiite cleric Muqtada al-Sadr.

Thousands of U.S. troops were taking part in the offensive, which began with the cordoning off of the revered Imam Ali shrine, its vast cemetery and Najaf's Old City.

"Major operations to destroy the militia have begun," said U.S. Marine Maj. David Holahan, executive officer of the 1st Battalion, 4th Marines Regiment.

The assault was expected to be led by Iraqi forces--many of whom have only minimal training--in an effort to ease anger from Iraq's Shiite majority if the offensive damages the shrine where many insurgents have taken refuge.

As Kos notes,
Mission not accomplished. Corner not turned. We're still caught up in the same old war, courtesy of Bush's lies.

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Is Laura Bush Truth-Challenged,
or is she just reading her lines?

Liberal Oasis catches the First Lady, who apparently has been thrown out onto the campaign trail by Rove and Hughes, sharing some (how can we say this politely) less-than-accurate information.
In her
remarks to the Pennsylvania Medical Society, Mrs. Bush said,

Few people know that George W. Bush is the only President to ever authorize federal funding for embryonic stem cell research.
As Liberal Oasis notes, this is not true. Quoting Harvard Magazine:

...President Bill Clinton, after asking his national bioethics advisory commission for a report on human stem cells, issued an executive order clarifying an existing congressional ban on the use of federal funds to create or destroy human embryos.
His order did allow federal funding for research on human stem-cell lines, but not for creating them.

Most researchers were satisfied that sufficient private money could be raised to create new stem-cell lines; they could then use federal money to pursue their research.

But eight months after George W. Bush became president, he extended the funding ban to research on all human stem-cell lines, except those already in existence on August 9, 2001, the day he announced his policy.
Here at Rain Storm, we don't think that the First Lady would intentionally lie. Rather, we suspect that she doesn't know diddly squat about federal funding for stem cell research. It seems more likely that she is just reading whatever Karl Rove and Karen Hughes tell her to read. That gives a soft, human face to the harsh and brutal policies of the Bush administration.

And they don't have to worry about her wandering off her leash and saying something really stupid like her husband, the president, usually does.

Thanks to Avedon Carol for the link.


Wednesday, August 11, 2004

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Too Dumb to Have a Job
or be a congressman

Looks like party switcher Rodney Alexander may have hosed his own re-election bid. According to
MyDD (via Kevin Drum):
A voter in Louisiana is filing a legal challenge to defective Congressman Rodney Alexander's ballot qualification, and seeks an injunction preventing the Secretary of State from issuing ballots printed with his name. The petition, filed by a voter and based on both Louisiana statute and prior precedent, rightly argues that Alexander's SECOND filing 20 minutes before the deadline is in effect a withdrawal of his candidacy under Louisiana law since candidates are prohibited from amending their ballot qualification in any way once it has been made. Others in Louisiana have been tossed for just this kind of behavior in the past.
James Carville was right.
Alexander was known as the stupidest Democrat in Louisiana, which would probably make him the smartest Republican in Washington.

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Helping the Colored Folks
know who to vote for

A group calling itself People of Color United, primarily financed by big Republican donars, is running anti-Kerry ads in some major African-American radio markets. According to the Washington Post:

The D.C.-based group, People of Color United, has substantial financial backing from J. Patrick Rooney, the former chairman of Golden Rule Insurance Co. and the founder of a new firm, Medical Savings Insurance Co. Both firms specialize in medical savings accounts, created by Republican-backed 1996 legislation, and health savings accounts, which were created by President Bush's 2003 Medicare prescription drug legislation.

[. . .]

Rooney, who is white, said in an e-mail response to an inquiry from The Washington Post: "I support [the] group because the genuine word from the black community should be heard, not white folks saying for them."
I'm sure the irony of that statement never even registered with Mr. Rooney. Honest.

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"Can't Tell My Pillow From a Stone"

Some moments are indelibly carved in stone in my (admittedly) porous memory. Nine years ago today I was driving across the Bay Bridge from Oakland to The City when I heard the news that Jerry Garcia had died.

I was never what you would call a classic Dead Head. I didn't follow the circus from town to town and show to show.

But as a musician who came of age in the late '60s, I was undeniably touched and influenced by the music of the Dead, the Robert Hunter lyrics, the Jerry Garcia melodies.

For those of us of a certain age, there have been far too many times we will remember as "the day the music died." Of course, the music goes on. I find a certain pleasure when I see young people, a generation or more behind me, enjoying the strains of Truckin', Uncle John's Band, Ripple, Sugar Magnolia, and Casey Jones.

So consider taking a moment today to remember the music. If you're so inclined, and depending on your spiritual persuasions, consider raising a glass and offering a toast to absent companions. Or say a simple prayer, giving thanks for all the great music and good times given as a gift to us by those who are no longer here.

Thanks to Natalie for helping me remember.


Tuesday, August 10, 2004

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Goss to Head CIA
The fix was in from the get

CNN reports that
President Bush on Tuesday announced his choice to lead the CIA as U.S. Rep. Porter Goss, an eight-term Republican congressman who butted heads with former CIA Director George Tenet over the agency's intelligence gathering.
As Rain Storm noted in late June, Goss was the administration's designated attack dog in the House, blaming the CIA for the administration-induced intelligence failures regarding Iraq (see House Chair Slams CIA -- wants Director's Job).

Goss is not at all popular with the career intelligence professionals at the CIA, and may face outright hostility from his staff if he is confirmed by the Senate. Looks like another brilliant appointment by Team Bush.

UPDATE: Billmon provides a little more depth to the story. Pull your big boots on. The slime gets deep.


Monday, August 09, 2004

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Dems Find Their Wedge Issue,
White House has Laura defending stem cell limits

After years of feeling the business end of wedge issues, the Democrats have found one of their own. And now the White House is using Laura Bush to try to defend her husband's seemingly indefensible position.

According to the New York Times (registration required):
Venturing forcefully into one of the more contentious issues of the campaign, Laura Bush on Monday defended the limits her husband had imposed on embryonic stem cell research and criticized those who suggested that the research could lead quickly to cures for Alzheimer's and other diseases.

[. . .]

The remarks were a thinly veiled reference to comments by Ron Reagan, who suggested loosening restrictions on the research in a speech at the Democratic National Convention, just six weeks after the death of his father, former President Ronald Reagan, who had Alzheimer's.

[. . .]

Nancy Reagan, the former first lady, and a bipartisan group of lawmakers have argued that less stringent limits on science could eventually lead to breakthroughs to help those who suffer from diabetes and Alzheimer's disease.

With polls showing wide support for stem cell research, Democrats consider the issue one that plays to their advantage, dividing Republicans. The Democratic nominee, Senator John Kerry, raised the issue in a radio address on Saturday, vowing to lift the restrictions on research if he became president and saying the government should not "sacrifice science for ideology."

On Monday, Mr. Kerry restated the point, speaking to reporters in Arizona.

"It is entirely within ethical bounds to do embryonic stem cell research without violating one's beliefs at all about what life is or where it is and what matters," he said. "I think you have to measure it also against the lives you save, against the diseases that you're curing. Life is important to us, and I think if we can cure Alzheimer's, if we can cure AIDS, if we can cure diabetes, if we can save millions of lives by doing research on something that may be destroyed anyway, that the balance is important."
This is a good one for the Kerry campaign, and for the Democrats in general. It's hard for the far right to mourn their patron saint, and not honor the wishes of his widow on the stem cell issue.

The Dems now have a wedge issue that paints Bush and his supporters as anti-science, anti-health care, and quite frankly, inhumane. There are certainly lots of other things that make those labels valid. But this one has the Republicans in deep disagreement. That's exactly what a wedge issue is supposed to do.

* * * * * * * *

Nichols Gets Life,
hope remains for answers

By sparing Oklahoma City bombing accomplice Terry Nichols the death penalty, jurors also created the hope that someday the whole truth of the bombing plot and all its participants might be revealed.

Since Timothy McVeigh, the central figure in the 1995 bombing of the Murroh building, was executed, Nichols provides the only viable hope for explanations about others involved in the plot. Though not pursued in the federal cases against McVeigh and Nichols, accounts from witnesses have led to speculation that there were others who participated in the bombing plot.

In a report on NPR's All Things Considered in May of this year, Wade Goodwyn sited numerous pieces of evidence that indicated the likelihood of other co-conspirators in the bombing.

Keeping Nichols alive also keeps alive the possibility of the whole truth of the planning and execution of the deadliest act of domestic terrorism in America's history one day coming to light. Facing life in prison with no opportunity for parole, Terry Nichols may decide at some point that making peace with God and with himself requires that he tell the entire story. Had he been put to death, that possibility would have died with him.


Sunday, August 08, 2004

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Put Rummy on a Milk Carton,
but they can't hide Bush

Kudos to
Kevin Hayden for being out in front on the story of the Disappearing Donald. Looks like Rove and Hughes are doing their best to hide the administration's chief embarrassments going into the Republican convention this month. And of course, they'll be trying to round up all the women and people of color they can find (there's probably a dozen or so if they combine both groups) to put a bright, inclusive face on the party's big New York dog and pony show.

The problem is, their major embarrassment isn't the supporting cast. It's their candidate. They can't let him off his leash for a moment, or he's likely to create more Bushisms (see
Bush Finally Tells the Truth).

It's gotta be tough when you work for a president who is so out of touch that he doesn't even know that he's as dumb as a box of hammers, to use that delightful
Jill Sobule line.

So they can hide Rummy all they want. But the truth is out there, and so is their candidate.

* * * * * * * *

I've Found the Bumper Sticker
to go along side
Veteran for Kerry

The General's got it!


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